The dip coating of suspensions made of monodisperse non-Brownian spherical particles dispersed in a Newtonian fluid leads to different coating regimes depending on the ratio of the particle diameter to the thickness of the film entrained on the substrate. In particular, dilute particles dispersed in the liquid are entrained only above a threshold value of film thickness. In the case of anisotropic particles, in particular fibers, the smallest characteristic dimension will control the entrainment of the particle. Furthermore, it is possible to control the orientation of the anisotropic particles depending on the substrate geometry. In the thick film regime, the Landau-Levich-Derjaguin model remains valid if one account for the change in viscosity.
To test the hypotheses, we performed dip-coating experiments with dilute suspensions of non-Brownian fibers with different length-to-diameter aspect ratios. We characterize the number of fibers entrained on the surface of the substrate as a function of the withdrawal velocity, allowing us to estimate a threshold capillary number below which all the particles remain in the liquid bath. Besides, we measure the angular distribution of the entrained fibers for two different substrate geometries: flat plates and cylindrical rods. We then measure the film thickness for more concentrated fiber suspensions.
The entrainment of the fibers on a flat plate and a cylindrical rod is primarily controlled by the smaller characteristic length of the fibers: their diameter. At first order, the entrainment threshold scales similarly to that of spherical particles. The length of the fibers only appears to have a minor influence on the entrainment threshold. No preferential alignment is observed for non-Brownian fibers on a flat plate, except for very thin films, whereas the fibers tend to align themselves along the axis of a cylindrical rod for a large enough ratio of the fiber length to the radius of the cylindrical rod. The Landau-Levich-Derjaguin law is recovered for more concentrated suspension by introducing an effective capillary number accounting for the change in viscosity.